Oh, Cain. Such a fun character to write about! The third human on the planet who is known for one thing: Killing the fourth. Yet as I read this story once again through the lenses of “how does God reveal His desire for closeness with people?”, I find some kindness and truth.
In Genesis 4:4 & 5, Cain and his brother Abel bring offerings to the Lord. God looks with favor on Abel’s, but He did not look with favor on Cain’s. We aren’t told why. I’ve heard different reasons, such as Abel’s offering was an animal so therefore there was blood shed for remission of sins and Cain’s offering was from the ground. But I think an offering of the first fruits of whatever line of work one was in was the sacrifice God was after. I don’t know, but I do know this: It was no secret to Cain what he had done wrong. In Genesis 4:7, God says to Cain: “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?”
Sometimes intimacy with God can be downright uncomfortable because we know exactly what He asked for and we chose not to give it. Does it sometimes makes us angry that He sees? Does it sometimes make us jealous of others? What does this tell us about nearness between God and Cain?
*God saw the offerings personally and cared about the motives of their hearts.
*God made it no secret what would please Him and what would not. He wasn’t tricky.
*God spoke audibly to Cain after his heart was downcast, with an explanation and a warning.
After Cain killed Abel, a couple other touch points happened between Cain and God. God gives the punishment that Cain will be a restless wanderer, no longer having any luck with farming, and driven from the presence of the Lord. Cain’s response is of course despair and he specifically says in verse 13 & 14, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from Your presence.” That was no small thing to Cain. He was heartbroken over it. Despite the first murderer in history’s actions, this man had a relationship with God! And the last thing God says to him is, “I will protect you.” He puts a mark on his head so no one would kill him. A Father showing discipline and mercy at the same time.
I am always saying when we come to a worship gathering, it’s not about the music…and it’s not. It’s about meeting with Almighty God and spending time with Him. When we come together to sing, or when we go alone in prayer, or just as we focus our minds on awareness of Him throughout the day, we are exercising the most awesome privileges in history because we are welcomed into the presence of God, where our hearts will be seen and personally known. He will speak, He will ask things of us, and we will have a chance to respond. He is a loving Father with a perfect balance of discipline and mercy, and because of Jesus, if we accept Him, we would never lose His friendship.